It’s a common saying: If you do what you love, you never work a day in your life. But no one ever talks about what happens if the job you chose is constantly changing. We asked pros from around the country why they’ve stuck with the industry and what they enjoy most about their work.
Brian Cook mortgage advisor & reverse mortgage specialist Alpine Mortgage Planning I believe in the product and what it can do for those in or preparing for retirement. I take great pride in being an expert and resource for those in need of correct information, including other mortgage and senior advisors. And not many jobs allow you to make a living by helping to change people’s lives. I recently had the pleasure of assisting an elderly gentleman whose desire was to live out his remaining days in his home. When I sat down with his caregiver and children, he began to cry as I assured him that was possible. His daughter said, “Those are tears of joy.” Not one of us in the room had a dry eye. That is why I love and stay in this industry.
Atare E. Agbamu CEO ThinkReverse LLC Changes and challenges are common to all human activities, and they offer opportunities for growth, so I welcome them. The changes and challenges that have come to reverse mortgages have made both the product and the industry stronger and better. Looking forward, the demographic arithmetic is unassailable and compelling. Second, the product is rock-solid as a complementary tool for 21st-century retirement finance. Lastly, it can only get better. For reverse mortgages, the best is yet to come.
Michael J. Weltman assistant vice president/area sales manager Urban Financial of America The clients are the greatest generation, those who built America and transformed it into the place we know and love. Serving this group is the highest calling I could imagine, helping to provide retirement solutions for them to make life and retirement easier. When I was in real estate—selling and building homes—giving buyers the keys to their new home was the greatest feeling I had ever had. Reverse allows me to help folks stay in their homes, buy homes, relocate, downsize, age in place, renovate, remodel… whatever they want! It’s the most gratifying job someone in finance could ever have. Even after 25 years, we are just getting started. Reverse mortgages are the future of retirement planning and solutions. It’s the fourth leg of the retirement stool. Elder law attorneys, wealth managers, CPAs and CFPs will all be turning to reverse mortgage professionals for advice to assist their clients and I can’t wait. I want to continue to help and teach and educate till everyone knows what a powerful tool reverse mortgages are. The future of reverse is very bright. We should be very excited and passionate to be able to be part of this process.
Alissa Prieto western regional account manager Reverse Mortgage Funding LLC Nothing is constant, so any business is bound to change, just maybe not as frequently as the reverse mortgage world. It is all about perspective. We could complain all day long about how different the reverse mortgage program is today compared to five years ago, but the HECM product is significantly better than it was 10 years ago! I grew up in the reverse mortgage industry and I have developed long-lasting relationships all over the country that I never want to give up. I really enjoy the people in the reverse mortgage space and all of these changes and challenges have only brought us closer together. We are still a small industry and I am grateful for the talented people who have spent a lot of energy making the reverse mortgage industry a better place. People are excited again due to the recent program changes. In my opinion, this is one of the high points of the reverse mortgage industry and I am going to enjoy it while it lasts because we all know that nothing lasts forever in the reverse world.
Joshua Shein executive vice president Reverse Mortgage Network There is truly no other product like the HECM available to seniors. It’s life-changing for the consumer. I have stuck with this industry because, despite all of the changes and challenges, we truly make a difference in people’s lives. Every day is different: the loans, the borrowers, the changes. There are so many unique situations and stories. Every day, we find ourselves challenged and learning how we can help someone and change their situation. In this business, the days, weeks and months fly by so quickly—there is truly nothing like it. We are at such a monumental time for our industry and for the 62-and-over population. The need for our product—for a solution to age in place—is needed now more than ever. The growth of the older American population will ensure tremendous growth for our entire industry in the coming years. HUD has finally finished its changes and modifications for the product and we now have a clean path to move ahead with the product for years to come!
Colleen Moore national director of the reverse mortgage division Golden Equity Mortgage, reverse division of Land Home Financial Services I have stuck with this industry because I love being able to make a difference for people. Being in the forward market for more than 15 years, I enjoyed teaching my clients as well as providing mortgages; that is the side of the business I have always enjoyed. I taught real estate investing and was attracted to the “art of the deal” opportunities. Now, in the reverse world, I get to solve problems and help clients and professionals find ways to become and stay financially solvent. I love thinking out of the box! Give me a challenge or a problem and let me solve it… that is the joy in this business for me! I feel very positive about our industry. We are finally poking our head out of the decades of bad press!
Kimberly Smith senior vice president, wholesale lending American Advisors Group When you look back, yes, there have been challenges, and there has also been tremendous progress. For example, 10 years ago there was only one margin available and no viable fixed-rate option, and there was no back-end premium to speak of. Today, while the guidelines have changed, all of that change is working toward a vision to create a sustainable program to help seniors for many years to come. Ultimately, I am here because I believe in the product, the need for an additional financial solution for older Americans, and I really enjoy all of the wonderful relationships and friendships I’ve cultivated. In short, the reverse mortgage product meets a growing need in our society. The number of individuals turning 62 each day is increasing and with the current economy and fewer people saving enough for retirement, this product will be a key tool in the current as well as the future’s retiree’s financial plan. I know it is part of mine!
Don Graves principal HECM Advisors Group The focus of my 15 years in this business has been squarely upon education. I love talking to advisors, retirees, bankers, financial planners, attorneys and so on, and seeing their expressions when they discover that the HECM is not a program of last resort, but actually an integral part of any overall retirement plan. The program, despite its challenges, is built upon a solid principle: The strategic and prudent use of housing wealth will create a better retirement for most Americans. That’s rock-solid and 100 percent true. Baby boomers will live longer; they have not saved enough; and they are highly indebted. These facts will be driving factors in this program for the next 20 to 30 years. This industry has always been good, and now it is moving toward being great.
Kristen Sieffert chief operating officer Urban Financial of America Despite the ups and downs, this industry has definitely stuck around. I think this is due to two factors. The first being the people that work in the space and the second is the ability to make a positive difference for our borrowers. I feel very blessed to have had the opportunities to work with so many high-caliber people at each step along the way, all focused on doing the right thing and doing it the best we possibly can. More and more people outside of the industry are slowly starting to see the benefits of reverse mortgages. And the people within the industry are constantly doing the right thing and making sure that we don’t inadvertently tarnish our reputation. The addition of proprietary products is also really exciting.
Harlan Accola branch manager Moneywise Mortgage Having been in the business for more than 10 years, I truly enjoy having a purpose and knowing that we have made a significant positive difference in the lives of the people we work with. Sometimes it is a big deal—saving a home in a divorce situation—and turning a negative into positive. Sometimes it is a smaller payoff, like helping one senior achieve his dream of buying a Harley-Davidson motorcycle. But in all cases, I know that long after our compensation is spent, and we are working on the next files, the reverse mortgage continues to make the life of that senior better for the rest of the time they have on this earth. I’ll never get tired of that and that is why I do what I do every day.